A person’s will is a very important document. It lets the world know what to do with their possessions, and in some cases it can go a long way until one determines how someone would like to be remembered after they’re gone. As the following examples indicate, it seems like some people just want to be known for being extremely weird.
1. Charles Vance Millar
Millar was a Canadian lawyer and investor who died in 1926. He was known for having a good sense of humor and a love for practical jokes, and his will reflects this. It contained all sorts of strange and funny requests, such as leaving a vacation house in Jamaica in the joint custody of three people that he knew hated each other. But Millar’s will is most famous for the final clause, where he stated that the cash value of his very large estate would be given to the woman who gave birth to the most children in a span of ten years.
This set off the so called Great Stork Derby, where numerous women from Toronto, apparently with nothing better to do, tried to win the prize. The Supreme Court tried to have the whole thing struck down, but Millar, with his law experience, had made the contest pretty much bullet-proof. Four women eventually split the title, taking home $125,000 each. And all they had to do was give birth to and raise nine children!
2. Jeremy Bentham
Bentham is already famous for being an extremely influential philosopher and for playing an important part in the creation of University College London, but his will gave him no small claim to fame either. Dyeing in 1832, Bentham’s final wish was for his body to be dissected in public as a part of a lecture on anatomy. OK, that’s pretty strange, but really he just donated his body to science. But that wasn’t all, after that was done he wanted his skeleton and head to be preserved and stored in a display cabinet. Yeah, he was weird.
The so called “Auto-icon” was built by stuffing the skeleton with hay and dressing it in Bentham’s clothes. It was originally kept by one of his close friends (really, what says friendship better than keeping your dead buddy’s body preserved in your house?) but it eventually came into the ownership of University College London.
It’s on public display, although with a wax head because the real one is under lock and key after being the subject of numerous and without doubt some very strange students’ pranks. They even took Bentham’s body out to “participate” in key staff meetings. It seems that nothing adds to staff morale like forcing everyone to sit next to a skeleton for a couple of hours.
3. T.M. Zink
People tend to leave most of their belongings to family members when they die, but there are exceptions to this rule, of course. Sometimes the family members don’t get along well, or there is something about their way of life that isn’t approved of. That’s why T.M. Zink’s wife and daughter were pretty much left out of Zink’s 1930 will: they had an unfortunate and undesirable characteristic, as Mr Zink saw it. Specifically, they were women.
Yes, it appears T.M. Zink, despite marrying and fathering a daughter, was a misogynist. He bequeathed his daughter five bucks and his wife absolutely nothing, which left tens of thousands of dollars to be put into a trust fund. There, it would sit for 75 years before the wealth, that had accumulated, would be used to create the Zink Womanless Library. No books by women would be allowed to grace its shelves, no art by women on the walls, and no furniture by women for men to sit on.
It was even going to have a “No Women Admitted” sign on the front door, so it was sort of a combination higher learning centre and juvenile tree house. But it was not to be, as Zink’s daughter began a legal battle. The court realised Zink’s idea was irrational and the money was given to her. We don’t know what happened next, but it would have been nice if she had used it to build the T.M. Zink Can Suck It Library.
4. Audrey Jean Knauer
Everyone has a favorite celebrity. In Knauer’s case, she was a big fan of Charles Bronson. OK, so we can’t blame her for liking the tough guy, even if he was responsible for five awful Death Wish films. But Knauer took her fandom a little too far by leaving $300,000 to a man she had never met or even corresponded with, upon her death in 1997.
There were questions by her family regarding the legality of the will (in part because it was scribbled on top of a list of phone numbers, but mostly because they received absolutely nothing), but that didn’t stop Bronson from taking half of the money. Yes, Charles Bronson actually took $150,000 dollars that a complete had stranger left to him, apparently not seeing anything wrong with screwing over her family.
To be fair, Bronson planned to donate the money to charity, and Kaneur’s will even said that whatever money Bronson didn’t want, should go to a local library. However, Bronson was starting to suffer from Alzheimer’s, so his idea of charity at this point could have had very well came in the form of firearms for vigilante justice. Isn’t frankly a better way than to buy a few books for some library.
5. Carlotta Liebenstein
A lot of people own pets, and any responsible pet owner would want to ensure that their animals were cared for after they passed on. There’s nothing weird about that. However, some people, usually the ones with more money than they know what to do with, take that simple concept too far. That explains why, when Liebenstein died in 1991, she left a staggering 139 million Deutschmarks to her dog Gunther III and his heir Gunther IV.
Now, no matter how many diamond studded collars and leashes you buy it’s still pretty damn hard to spend that much money to take care of a couple of dogs. Unless, of course, you ensure that your pets are given a private house, a personal maid, a limo with a chauffeur and a custom designed swimming pool.
This raises many, many questions. First and foremost being why the German government allowed a couple of dogs to have a higher standard of living than basically anyone in East Germany. But once you accept that insanity you’re still left with a lot of questions. How do the dogs tell their chauffeur where to go? What exactly does a swimming pool designed for dogs look like? And who would possibly want to admit to having the job of maid for a couple of aristocratic canines?
6. John Bowman
All the wills we’ve looked at so far have been weird, but at least the desires behind them were grounded firmly in the real world. John Bowman stands alone as a man whose last wishes were made in order to prepare for what he felt was a supernatural inevitability. He believed that after his death, which came in 1891, he, his wife and their two daughters would be reincarnated together.
He was also genuinely concerned that they would return rather hungry and therefore out of the $50,000 that was put towards maintaining his mansion and mausoleum a healthy chunk of it was set aside to ensure that servants prepared a nightly meal in case that was the night the Bowmans returned, reincarnated and starving.
So forget the dog maid mentioned above, because the people in charge of cooking, delivering and then disposing of meals, night after pointless night, have by far been the most embarrassing jobs out there. At least they did so, thankfully, the money for this venture ran out in 1950.
Still, that’s over half a century of useless meal preparations. Details are sketchy, but we’d hope that the servants started to eat the meals for themselves when it became obvious Bowman wasn’t coming back to claim them. Or at the very least they hopefully just switched over to tossing bread and water on the table and going for a beer run, with the money saved. Either way, this is a bafflingly weird last request.